Better, Stronger

The Week brings us the video of Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly talking to a very sympathetic Diane Sawyer. There are a number of words you could use to describe the video. Let’s go with “arresting.” Let’s describe my reaction as “there’s something in my eye.”

What makes it so compelling is that Giffords, a woman who has lived and continues to live in public, lets the camera see her weakness. Her command of language is incredibly limited. We see her going through a sheet of prepared phrases, and she can deliver those. Why is she reading them? Here’s a clue: She’s recorded a stitched-together minute-long message to voters.

A Message from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by RepGiffords

Back in March, when we knew very little about Giffords’ recovery, there was a bit of a push from Democrats for Giffords to consider a Senate race. “Ever so quietly,” Marc Lacey reported, “Ms. Giffords’s political allies are laying the groundwork just in case. Friends and allies held a fund-raiser for her on March 15 in Washington — trying to supplement her Congressional campaign war chest, which totaled about $285,000 at year’s end and could be tapped for a Senate bid.”

It sounded crazy at the time, and it sounds crazy now. Maybe there’s a better word: It’s cynical. Theoretically, there is nothing preventing a political party from giving its nomination to someone who can’t perform the day to day tasks expected; staffs can take care of that. This was the situation Strom Thurmond’s staff mastered in the final years of his final Senate term, when he was in steep decline. There aren’t a lot of jobs like this, where you can win the position and have the work handled, mostly, by other people.

But that idea’s as disturbing as the recovery is inspiring. (Read Will Saletan on what the home movies of her recovery tell us about the brain.)